Get the Athlon Sports Newsletter
The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama. Week 5 was a huge weekend of action across the nation. Lessons were learned in Athens, Tuscaloosa, Tempe, Columbus and South Bend to name a few. Ole Miss did lose by more than three touchdowns and Zach Mettenberger did out-pass Aaron Murray as I predicted last week. Arkansas topped 200 yards rushing and lost and Brandin Cooks had a monster game for Oregon State. In a week without a marquee showdown and lots of quality conference matchups, Week 6 could be equally as entertaining.
Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.
Either Texas or UCLA will lose on Thursday
Strange things happen in Ames, Iowa and Salt Lake City, Utah. Especially, in October. Just ask Oklahoma State about traveling to Ames. The Cyclones and Utes will host NCAA blue bloods Texas and UCLA on Thursday evening and one of them will pull an upset. Texas is clearly a questionable team at best despite a win over Kansas State at home two weeks ago. Utah is a far superior opponent than Iowa State with Travis Wilson running Dennis Erickson’s offense to near perfection. After an off weekend, Utah is just a 4.5-point underdog and could easily pull the home upset.
Every SEC favorite will win
Alabama and South Carolina are big favorites over Georgia State and Kentucky but LSU, Florida and Georgia are all picked by Vegas to win by roughly 10 points each over Mississippi State, Arkansas and Tennessee respectively. LSU and Georgia, fresh off an emotional showdown last weekend, have to go on the road. The two real swing games are Ole Miss (-2.5) at Auburn and Missouri at Vanderbilt (-1.5). There won’t be a single upset in the nation’s best conference this weekend. And as a side outrageous prediction, Ole Miss will do something it hasn’t done since 1952 — beat Auburn in two straight seasons.
Wake Forest will finish the week as the only 0-3 BCS team in conference
Heading into Week 6, there are four teams in one of the “BCS” conferences that sit at 0-2. Vanderbilt, Duke, Southern Cal and Wake Forest are the only teams with two conference losses already. Both Duke and USC are off this weekend, and since I’m picking Vanderbilt to win at home over Missouri, that leaves the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest is a 10-point underdog at home against NC State this weekend. With a loss and a Vandy win, Wake would become the nation’s first automatic qualifier to start the year 0-3 in league play.
The first team to 14 points will win the Stanford-Washington game
Yards, first downs and points will be tough to come by in this key Pac-12 North game in Palo Alto between the Cardinal and Huskies. Washington is leading the league in yards allowed per game (288.8 ypg), yards per play allowed (3.8 ypp), passing defense (156.8 ypg) and, most importantly, scoring defense (10.8 ppg). The Huskies are fourth nationally in points allowed per game and Stanford isn’t too far behind at 19.5 per game (34th nationally). Stanford’s defense is fresh off of a crushing performance against Washington State on the road and appears to have finally settled into form. The first team (if any) to score a second touchdown should win this one.
Baylor and West Virginia won’t score 19 touchdowns
The Bears and Mountaineers combined for 1,237 passing yards, 270 rushing yards and 19 total touchdowns in the 70-63 West Virginia win last season in Morgantown. While Art Briles has inserted Bryce Petty at quarterback and not missed a beat at Baylor, Dana Holgorsen has had much less success under center. In fact, his team has fewer passing yards (1,196) in five games this season than the Baylor-WVU game featured last year. (Okay, picking two teams to score less than 19 TDs in a game isn’t that outrageous, after all).
Bonus Prediction: Lache Seatrunk will register his nation's-best eighth straight 100-yard rushing effort.
Arizona State will become the first team to beat USC and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks
Only 12 times has a team ever played USC and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks and Arizona State in 2013 is one of them. Of those 12 only three, including the Sun Devils, have won the first leg of the historic double-dip. South Carolina in 1983 and Michigan State in 1987 are the only other teams to win the front end of the two-game stretch over USC before both getting crushed by Notre Dame. ASU demolished USC last weekend and is a 5.5-point favorite over the Irish in Arlington, Texas, this weekend.
Northwestern will beat Ohio State for the second time ever
Ohio State is 28-1 all-time against Northwestern with the only win coming in Evanston in 2004 under the late Randy Walker. This is the most talented Northwestern team ever assembled, Ohio State is coming off of an emotionally draining effort against Wisconsin and College Gameday is going to be in Evanston for the first time since 1995 (just its second such appearance on campus). Venric Mark could return to the field for Pat Fitzgerald, giving him his full complement of weapons for the first time all season. The Cats have been extremely competitive against upper level Big Ten teams of late and now is the time for them to break through on the national stage.
Neither Jameis Winston or C.J. Brown will throw a TD pass
Winston and Brown are nipping at Tajh Boyd’s heels for ACC Player of the Year but both will be slowed this weekend by excellent defenses. Winston has been a star for FSU but is facing a Terps defense that is leading the nation with just one passing TD allowed. Florida State is fourth in the nation in passing defense by allowing a measly 136.0 yards per game. Look for both defenses to shine in this ACC Atlantic showdown. For the record, Maryland has never won in Tallahassee and it likely won’t this weekend either.